Now that Warner has seized the reins of DC in earnest, one of its primary concerns is going to be turning the company’s massive library of characters into viable movies. Here are ten movies DC and Warner haven’t quite managed to get into cinemas yet – which, let’s face it, means basically every character that doesn’t start with “Super”, “Bat” or, er, “Jonah”.
10. Wonder WomanWhy? Because Batman and Superman got their movies. Because Wonder Woman is the best chance we’ve got of getting a female superhero to star in her own movie. Because Joss Whedon already wrote a script! Although the character isn’t quite as defined in the public consciousness as the specific Lynda Carter version is, that’s really more than enough – let’s face it, it’s not like a dodgy 60s incarnation did much damage to Batman when the right filmmaker got their hands on him.
How? A Wonder Woman film isn’t an easy prospect. Although the character is a cultural icon, she suffers from a poorly defined rogues gallery and some very outdated designs, concepts and imagery associated with the character. A ground-up reinvention would not be an entirely terrible idea, although the majority of the public who are aware of Wonder Woman will be expecting the classic look. Perhaps a film along the lines of the Xena TV series would be the best way forward, emphasising the warrior and mythological elements of the character, rather than the straight superhero tropes.
9. LoboWhy? In some ways, DC is a step behind Marvel. They both have a flagship superhero who dresses in red and blue. They both have a wealthy, gadget-loving billionaire. But DC doesn’t have a straight-talking, no-guff-taking, hairy, motorbike-riding anti-hero. Which is where Lobo comes in. A man so badass he killed every other member of his own race. He’s Deadpool meets Wolverine, and Marvel already let Fox ruin their chances with both of those characters.
How? Lobo’s story doesn’t spring readily to mind. I’m inclined to say that he should be given a human sidekick as an audience entry point and let loose, performing some impossible task so that we can watch him cut a swath of destruction through the universe. Lobo doesn’t need a character arc – treat him as a force of nature, and something watchable will emerge.
8. Green LanternWhy? The Green Lantern canuse his Power Ring to create anything his mind conceives. Why wouldn’t he conceive a movie? There’s at least one good reason why a Green Lantern film is necessary: a Justice League feature. It would be worth establishing as many of the ‘big seven’ as possible prior to any JLA film being made, and Green Lantern is one character who can definitely support it. He’ll never be a Batman or a Superman, but he could at least make the jump into the mainstream alongside similar B-listers.
How? The biggest problem here is choosing exactly which Green Lantern to make the film about. Personally, I’d go with Kyle Rayner, simply because the character is far more modern and relatable than a middle-aged test pilot – and there are enough problems with the concept being a little outdated and corny as it is, without grafting an obviously 50s concept onto it. In any case, the story should see Kyle becoming the Green Lantern (though using Hal’s origin) and Sinestro coming to Earth to try and wrest the ring from the newbie Lantern before the Corps can get to him. Keep the origin story confined to Earth – all the space-faring stuff can wait until the sequel.
7. The FlashWhy? He might be the fastest man alive, but there’s still some ground to cover. Like the Green Lantern, it’d be good to get the Flash set up before a JLA film happens. He’s already had a few brushes with fame, and probably comes in just after the big three in terms of DC properties that the man on the street is familiar with. There’s a base to build on, and a goal to work towards – that’s enough of a reason for a film right there.
How? Again, the most difficult part would be choosing which Flash to use. Barry Allen makes the most sense, purely because he’s the most iconic incarnation, but Wally West is also a serious contender (although a film where the hero is named “Wally” seems an unlikely prospect.) Unfortunately, the Flash’s power of super-speed isn’t particularly cinematic, and most people will see him as a poor version of Superman. Plot be damned, the key to making Flash work on film is to find as many inventive uses for his abilities as possible. If everything’s a simple race, things will get tedious fast.
6. JLAWhy? With all the setup going on for a JLA film, it’d be pretty stupid not to then go and make it. There was recently the barest sliver of a promise that a Justice League film would happen, so clearly some people at Warner are ready to have a stab at it. One good reason to rush the film out would be to steal Marvel’s thunder. With the buzz around the in-development Avengers film building even now, DC/Warner beating them to the super-team punch would be a sweet victory.
How? All through this article I’ve suggested that individual JLA members should have their own film first, but maybe, just maybe, the JLA film could work in the opposite direction, introducing the DCU’s secondary characters. People would flock to a JLA film just to see Superman and Batman rubbing shoulders, so the opportunity to convince them that the other members are their peers and equals would go a long way to making them viable characters. Finding a threat big enough to be the antagonist in a JLA movie would be ridiculously difficult, though – an adapted version of Crisis, perhaps?
5. Green Arrow & Black CanaryWhy? Let’s face it. Neither of these characters has enough pull to carry a movie by themselves. A modern-day Robin Hood and an urban vigilante with limited superpowers and poor iconography are tough to put alongside the likes of Spider-Man, Batman and Iron Man, but that’s not to say they couldn’t fill a slightly different niche…
How? Here’s the pitch: Mr. & Mrs. Smith, with superheroes. And some actually good set pieces. Or look at it this way – you know the last two minutes of True Lies? Imagine a whole film’s worth of that. The husband-and-wife setup has masses of potential for heartfelt-romance, quick-witted humour and explosive conflict – and that’s before they’ve even put on the costumes (badum-tish!). The only film that’s tried something along these lines so far was the insultingly sexist rom-com My Super-Ex, so the goal’s still wide open for a good superhero relationship movie.
4. RobinWhy? Okay, before you start spouting holy-isms, hear me out. Here’s an instantly recognisable character that DC could easily turn into a headline star with the right pitch. Much like Batman, the character’s credibility was severely damaged by the 60s TV version, but there’s the added benefit that he’s now just as embedded in popular culture as the Dark Knight himself. Admittedly, they tried bringing Robin to the screen once, but Chris O’Donnell’s version of Robin was more ‘Bad Boy’ than ‘Boy Wonder’, resembling the character in name alone.
How?The main problem with this idea is that Christian Bale has already gone on record as saying that he won’t appear in any Batman film that includes Robin – so why not just the character in his own film? As with Batman, the only way he’s going to make it back on screen is with a portrayal vastly removed from the campy 60s version, so why not go the whole hog and make a film about the Tim Drake Robin instead? Throw in Dick Grayson as Nightwing, the original Robin, as a mentor figure in Batman’s stead, and the setup begins to reveal itself, helping establish Robin as a character without necessarily requiring a Batman. At least until the post-credits cameo…
3. Plastic ManWhy? Because not every superhero film has to be completely serious. Plastic Man has the perfect demeanour for one of those wacky slightly-supernatural comedies with a serious final act where everyone learns something important: The Mask, Click, Bruce Almighty – that kind of thing. Unfortunately, making a comedy along those lines usually requires a free member of the Frat Pack and a script full of big budget set pieces – and Plastic Man isn’t a character whom you can imagine having a lot of money spent on him. Still, at least it’s a more appropriate choice than that rumoured Jack Black Green Lantern film.
How? Assuming you could get the budget, the story’s a simple one, utilising a tried (and tired) formula – but for a character like Plastic Man, it’d be the only way to bring audiences in. An average Joe acquires the ability to control every molecule in his body, uses those powers to become a wacky superhero, with lots of wacky CGI and wacky times where he gets his leg caught in automatic doors and stuff. At the end, he learns there are some problems that you can’t fix purely by being a crazy stretchy man, and he grows a little as a person. Which is illustrated literally, with his stretchy plastic powers as some indie rock plays us into the credits. Admit it. You already feel like you’ve seen this movie just from my description of it, so someone might as well go ahead and make it.
2. The AuthorityWhy? It’s easy to forget that DC owns the Wildstorm Universe. The idea of Warner making a film out of The Authority is laughable. They’re barely happy publishing the comic, with its hyper-violence and homosexual Batman/Superman analogues, Midnighter and Apollo. It’s for exactly that reason, though, that an Authority film could be the most controversial and shocking take on superheroes ever to hit the cinema. Superheroes with the safety catches off. If someone can make Sin City, there’s no reason they couldn’t make this too.
How? Go for broke. Perhaps literally. Loosely adapt Ellis’ first 12-issue arc and end the film with the Authority fighting “God”, the being that created the solar system. The more graphic and ridiculous, the better. Show all those people who accuse superheroes of being an adolescent power fantasy exactly what they’d look like if that’s what they really were.
1. SandmanWhy?Aha, you didn’t think I’d forgotten about Vertigo, did you? Although, as a comics fan, I’m contractually obliged to say that Preacher should be made as an HBO miniseries rather than a film, the point is moot. It’s in development. On the other hand, Sandman is easily Vertigo’s most critically acclaimed property, and with good reason – it’s utterly fantastic. But a movie is still on the back burner. Although there are single issues of Sandman with stories strong enough to support a whole movie, one problem is that many of the reasons Sandman is so good are to do with the long, intricate narrative and the mastery of the comics form on display. Bringing that to a movie is hard, and it’s perhaps telling that in the past, the focus has been on a movie featuring the supporting character, Death, rather than Dream himself.
How? I don’t feel worthy of this task, but, since I’m hypothetically being forced into it, the only answer I can come up with is…animation. Whether CGI or stop-motion or traditional line-art (or perhaps a mix of all three) a Sandman animated movie seems like an appropriate way to bring the character to the big screen. Perhaps it needs to be presented in the manner of many other Sandman spin-offs, where the narrative follows an individual as they encounter the Endless, rather than Dream himself, but it’s certain that anyone taking on this job will have their work severely cut out for them. Sandman, after all, is a story about the power of stories – so put one foot wrong, and you’ll instantly look like a complete idiot.